Eating Frequency Is Higher in Weight Loss Maintainers and Normal-Weight Individuals than in Overweight Individuals


      Eating frequency has been negatively related to body mass index (BMI). The relationship between eating frequency and weight loss maintenance is unknown. This secondary analysis examined eating frequency (self-reported meals and snacks consumed per day) in weight loss maintainers (WLM) who had reduced from overweight/obese to normal weight, normal weight (NW) individuals, and overweight (OW) individuals. Data collected July 2006 to March 2007 in Providence, RI, included three 24-hour dietary recalls (2 weekdays, 1 weekend day) analyzed using Nutrient Data System for Research software from 257 adults (WLM n=96, 83.3% women aged 50.0±11.8 years with BMI 22.1±1.7; NW n=80, 95.0% women aged 46.1±11.5 years with BMI 21.1±1.4; OW n=81, 53.1% women aged 51.4±9.0 years with BMI 34.2±4.1) with plausible intakes. Participant-defined meals and snacks were ≥50 kcal and separated by more than 1 hour. Self-reported physical activity was highest in WLM followed by NW, and then OW (3,097±2,572 kcal/week, 2,062±1,286 kcal/week, and 785±901 kcal/week, respectively; P<0.001). Number of daily snacks consumed was highest in NW, followed by WLM, and then OW (2.3±1.1 snacks/day, 1.9±1.1 snacks/day, and 1.5±1.3 snacks/day, respectively; P<0.001). No significant group differences were observed in mean number of meals consumed (2.7±0.4 meals/day). Eating frequency, particularly in regard to a pattern of three meals and two snacks per day, may be important in weight loss maintenance.
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      J. L. Bachman is an assistant professor, Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Marywood University, Scranton, PA.


      H. A. Raynor is an associate professor, Department of Nutrition, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.


      S. Phelan is an associate professor, Kinesiology Department, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


      R. Wing is a professor, Brown Medical School and the Miriam Hospital Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center, Providence, RI.